July 12

What is Conversion Therapy & Where Did It Come From?


If you’ve heard of christianity and their relationship to the LGBTQ+ community, then you may have heard the words conversion therapy used in conversation. Conversion therapy is an extremely controversial topic and has caused a great deal of pain in society at large, especially for the gay community. While conversion therapy is a horrific practice, it’s valuable for our culture to understand its roots, causes and methods to be able to identify these kinds of harmful practices in the future. With a new conversion therapy movie coming out, it’s important to have these conversations and be prepared with information as the world continues to evolve and fight these deep, dark prejudices in our society. Conversion therapy is dangerous, and the full scope of this needs to be understood by our culture. So if you’re curious about the roots of conversion therapy, keep reading to learn more.

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What Is It? 


Conversion therapy is the practice of ‘curing’ homosexuality through a number of different methods of manipulation, coercion, and essentially torture. Conversion therapy was born from fundamentalist church groups pushing the idea that homosexuality is a sin, but it’s a curable sin. Conversion therapy claims that with the right therapy, one can overcome, and even change, entirely their sexuality. Of course, these claims are outrageous and have caused a great deal of mental anguish and death of thousands of young men and women growing up in conservative, fundamentalist communities. It has taken many forms over the centuries, but always reinforces the idea that homoesexualty is wrong or somehow an indication of mental illness. This is also untrue, and leads to dangerous ideas about self care and mental health for society at large. Next, let’s take a look at where conversion therapy comes from.

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Where Did it Come From? 


    Conversion therapy has it’s roots all the way back to the late 19th century in Europe. Researchers began exploring techniques such as shock therapy, behavioral modification and even lobotomy in attempts to cure or reverse homosexuality. In America, it made its way significantly into the field of psychology in the 20th century before being largely debunked by major scientists and researchers in the 21st century. The field of psychology, we must remember, is and was largely dominated by men and in the late 19th century, most of them held fundamentalist beliefs when it came to religion, which had established homosexuality as a deviant sin. The techniques used in conversion therapy include behavioral therapy, psychonalysis and more manipulative techniques such as using ex-gay and ex-trans ministry communities to recruit members.

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Where Does it Stand Today? 


    Today, conversion therapy is thought to be one of the most harmful, unnecessary and untruthful forms of manipulation. There is no agreement among major health organizations that being any representative member of the LGBTQ+ community is at all related to mental illness, nor is it something that can or needs to be cured. It’s not a disease, it’s a part of our unique human nature and one of the many things that makes our species beautiful. Today, there is protection against these kinds of harmful treatment methods on the state level providing some protection for youth against these atrocious organizations. So far, there are 20 states that ban conversion therapy for minors, and 22 states with no laws protecting children and minors against conversion therapy methods. In between, there are about 9 or so states that only have partial bans on the practice.

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Why Is It Harmful? 


Conversion therapy is harmful because it forces and indoctrinates an individual to devalue themselves and who they are as a person. Gay, lesbian, trans and non-binary youth do not deserve to be silenced, erased or treated as a disease. They deserve what the world has bestowed upon historically ‘traditional’ relationships which are only seen that way because of fundmentalist church groups and their hold on communities and ethics in America. The sooner we can start to define ourselves for who we are rather than who we’re told to be, that becomes threatening to those power structures. It’s important to educate ourselves, and do everything we can to make our LGBTQ+ community members feel strong and lifted up.

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Conversion therapy is one of the worst forms of manipulation that exist in our society. While it is extremely controversial and largely unpracticed, there still are communities that believe in it. As large churches like Exodus continue to be decentralized, we stand a greater chance of fighting against this evil. But it’s a hard fight, as we’ve seen in recent years that political forces are trying as hard as they can to pass bills that target the gay community. These fundmentalist values are still very much present, even if they seem more hidden than they were in the past.


what is conversion therapy & where did it come from?

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